VCA Pacific Petcare Animal Hospital offers comprehensive animal care — with the personal touch

By Karen Billing

The staff of VCA Pacific Petcare Animal Hospital. Photo/Karen Billing

When you walk into VCA Pacific Petcare Animal Hospital in Carmel Country Plaza, it’s possible that one of the two hospital cats, Spiccoli or Jacks, will be there in the lobby ready to greet you. Friendly faces are a specialty at Pacific Petcare, as much of the staff has been there for eight to 17 years.

“It may sound cheesy but you don’t often find a hospital where every single person is that invested in the clients and animals and they genuinely care,” said Dr. Leah Smith, medical director. “I’m amazed because that hasn’t been my experience at other places. I can honestly say that their hearts are just in it.”

The hospital, decked out in beachy décor, offers a full menu of care for dogs and cats, including typical annual, doctor, sick and wellness exams, full surgery, spay and neuters, arthroscopic surgeries, ultrasounds, digital x-rays, emergency care, endoscopy, in-house lab work and diagnostics, grooming and boarding.

The hospital merged with VCA about a year ago, bringing on the addition of three new doctors: Smith, Dr. Geoff Ball and Dr. Karen Soares, who used to be at All Creatures Animal Hospital.

Smith, a former member of the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps, has been with the VCA hospital group for the last four years. She said there is always some concern that VCA is a “big, corporate entity” but that is not the case.

“They don’t go in with the intent of changing things, just bringing the hospital into the fold, providing internal support but allowing the hospital to function as a hospital. That’s what drew me to VCA. VCA hospitals retain their personality and doctors are allowed to practice quality medicine the way they see fit.”

While still relatively new, the doctors go to an extra effort to build relationships with clients and are extremely hands-on.

“I don’t like to have only five or six minutes with clients,” Smith said. “I want to be in there. If it’s my one chance a year to talk to them I want to know what their concerns are. I know with any doctor visit, human or animal, patients don’t really know what questions to ask. I see it as our job to be a little bit more of an investigator for you and uncover problems you didn’t even know you had with your pet.”

One of the busiest areas of the hospital lately has been its dental suite.

“We do a lot of dentistry here, it’s one of our focuses and one of the improvements made with the new doctors,” said Mari Quinn, hospital manager.

Dentistry is a specialty of Dr. Ball’s and with a background in preventative medicine, Smith also places a lot of emphasis on the mouth, which can be the source of several diseases and chronic infections.

Smith is trying to bring about a shift in owners’ perceptions about the importance of dental care, making sure pets’ teeth are brushed as much as their own.

“The focus is overall dental care and what owners can do at home, to educate them and help them realize that a large part of their pet’s health lies in their hands and in that toothbrush every night,” Smith said. “We practice what we preach: Yes, I brush my pet’s teeth every day.”

Another thing VCA hospitals bring are their best care packages. There are great deals in plans for puppies and kittens, an annual check up plan and senior care plan. The plans go a step further than the normal exam for pets with blood work, heartworm tests, fecal tests and urinalysis, all going back to Smith’s focus on preventative care.

“Hopefully the pet gets a clean bill of health but if not, we’re catching things early and addressing the issue before it becomes a problem,” Smith said.

The hospital’s hours make it easy for clients to bring pets in—they are open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Walk-ins are welcome. “We’re never too busy for any pet,” Quinn said.

VCA Pacific Petcare is located at 12720 Carmel Country Road, suite 100. For more information, call (858) 481-1101 or visit